With full credit due to Syracuse’s Gerry McNamara and his unlikely run at the Big East Championship, Cal-Berkeley’s Leon Powe (shown dunking against USC Thursday night) put on the show of the week late Friday. His 41 point explosion in Cal’s 91-87 double OT win over Oregon sets up a Pac-10 Conference final with UCLA, one the Golden Bears might need to win to guarantee an NCAA berth.
CBS Sportsline’s Greg Doyel projects UConn, Duke, Villanova and Ohio State as the four No. 1 seeds. Doyel also figures that Memphis and Texas are no. 2’s ; the former are comfortably ahead of UAB in the Conference USA final. The latter will play their third game of 2006 against Texas A&M later today, a trip to the Big 12 final hanging in the balance.
The Houston Chronicle’s John Lopez, while rightly crediting A&M’s Billy Gillespie for the turnaround at College Station, calls UT’s Rick Barnes “the most underrated coach in the history of Longhorns sports.”
There might not be a hotter coach in America than Gillispie, but there certainly is not one whose talents have been taken for granted more than Barnes.
To see the childlike exuberance within the A&M program and among fans as they’ve earned the right to dance is to understand just how difficult it is to reach an NCAA Tournament and how special it is to be on an uncanny streak.
At Texas, NCAA Tournaments are givens. Sweet 16 games are expected. Top five recruiting classes come easy, or so it seems.
And the hot streak has been going on for nine years.